How Long Will Discus Fish Survive After They Stop Eating

Return To: How to Care for a Discus Fish Tank While Away

*The answer to this question will come as a surprise to many. I would like to categorize two sizes of Discus, an adult 6-inch and juvenile 3-inch, also that the Discus fish which stopped eating were healthy and eating before they began their hunger strike.

Discus which stops eating will start to shut down in order to burn fewer calories. They do not move much and at the latter stages become lethargic and even disoriented. In the wild, during the dry season, Discus fish can get trapped in small pools with no flowing water or continuous supply of food. To survive these lean times, they go into a shutdown mode helping them to survive. Due to my absents when traveling, my observations have been similar after a week un-fed. When I return and start feeding, it takes a couple days for them to get their appetite back to where it was before I stopped feeding. After returning I give them their first meal for the week, they aggressively go after the food as if they are hungry, but don’t eat very much and most of the food sits on the bottom of the tank. This finicky appetite will normally last for a couple days before their consumption returns to normal.

If an adult Discus fish stopped eating it might take 9 months to a year before it finally starved to death, and a 3-inch fish might take 4 months before its demise from starvation. In this length of time not eating, the fish will lose body mass, and their belly will appear skinny or caved in. Once the Discus loses body mass above the lateral line, giving the fish a pinched in appearance along its spine, this will be the point of no return and the fish will succumb to death from starvation. If your Discus fish stopped eating and died quickly, or within weeks after they last ate, this was not due to starvation, but instead something else which killed the fish and you need to check other aquarium parameter or internal parasites to figure out a cause of death.

It is important when you feed Discus to be sure they all aggressively attack the food. Watch for stragglers that hold back and don’t feed with the rest. If you notice these symptoms take immediate steps to correct their appetite loss. The most effective remedy to begin is turning the heat up to 90 degrees to stimulate their appetite. At this early stage the outcome to save the Discus fish will be its best. The longer left un-treated the harder it will be to cure, requiring higher heat to stimulate appetite and getting your Discus feeding again. Discus fish which have gone off food for weeks will need more drastic treatment and their temperature increased to 94-95 degrees until they take interest in food again. So, the more observant you are at feeding, the more effective and less drastic treatment has to be for a positive outcome.

Read More: How Long Do Discus Fish Live

13th Apr 2024 Steve MacDonald

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